Power lines to connect up a huge proposed wind farm off the east coast of England have been approved by the Government, in a decision condemned as “disastrous” by the Tory-led local council.
The turbines of the Triton Knoll offshore wind farm were granted planning permission in 2013, but the controversial cabling work was treated a separate application after delays in National Grid finalising the best place for them to connect to the electricity network.
Greg Clark, the business and energy secretary, on Tuesday granted planning permission for the connection, which will see a 35-mile stretch of cabling buried underground through Lincolnshire.
Developers Innogy, the renewables subsidiary of RWE, and Statkraft said they now planned to seek subsidies to support the construction of Triton Knoll in an upcoming Government auction due to be held early next year.
The project is expected to involve up to 200 turbines with a capacity of up to 900 megawatts (MW), and will involve total investment of about £3bn over its lifetime, Innogy said, declining to disclose the cost of the actual construction work.
But the planning consent for the onshore cabling was strongly criticised by Conservative-led Lincolnshire county council, which opposed the plans and has so far refused to agree the sale of some of its land to the developers.
Cllr Colin Davie, executive member for planning, said: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which has been pushed through against local wishes. As we’ve said throughout, this project is likely to have a disastrous impact on both the local landscape and tourism industry.”
Cllr Davie said it was “unconscionable” that the project would be subsidised through energy bills, claiming that local people would not “be seeing a share in any of the economic benefits being touted by the developer”.
“I think the Government has got it wrong, and I’m sure this decision will be met with a lot of anger locally,” he said.
But Melissa Read, consent delivery manager for Triton Knoll, said it was working “locally and regionally to help develop the supply chain and establish a lasting regional economic legacy”.
“In the Humber area, we anticipate the project could be worth a total of around £224m and support over 800 jobs annually during construction alone, while its operation could support a further 220 jobs annually locally,” she said.
Triton Knoll originally got planning consent for a 1.2GW wind farm with up to 288 turbines, each just over 4MW capacity. At the time, it was the biggest offshore wind farm to get consent anywhere in the world, though has since been surpassed by several others in the UK.
However it since scaled the plans back to 900MW in part to help reduce the onshore cabling work required, and is expected to use a minimum of 5MW-capacity machines, reducing the number of turbines.